A letter from my brother and some comments from me


I just got a call telling me that right now Dad is checking into the Medical Center to have some sort of surgery. I think he said an angioplasty is needed to open the veins in his leg so that the
wound(s) on his feet can get better blood flow in order to heal. Apparently, the wounds have not healed for many weeks (months?). Pray for his recovery and the surgeon's skill & good judgment.
love, (brother)
My dad has type one diabetes (the rare kind). He and his only sibling, his younger brother, were both born with the gene that can lead to type one diabetes if the right stimulus is present. My Uncle Bob got diabetes in childhood, after a viral illness that was probably an influenza. When Bob got his diabetes in 1941 or so, insulin therapy was in its infancy. None the less, with the strict discipline imposed on him by my grandmother, he survived childhood and actually lived to the age of 60 or so.
My dad's diabetes came later in life. He was a very fit man, an Air Force pilot, always working out. His weakness was cola and sweetened tea - he would consume these beverages all day long. But he also exercised to keep from gaining even an ounce over what the flight surgeon recommended.
When he was 28, mumps went through our entire family. I was the first to get it, and had a fairly mild case. My fever went up to 105 degrees F (40.5 C) and I lost 10 lbs, but I had no real complications. My mom was immune, having had mumps as a child. The disease worked its way through the other 5 members of the family, with my sister Cathy and my Dad getting it last and worst. My mom was so exhausted from caring for the rest of us that I ended up doing a lot of nursing care for Cat and Dad. Cat was delirious part of the time. Dad had some other complications that I wasn't told about at the time (but let me say that my baby sister was considered quite a surprise 5 years later). Several months after his bout with mumps, my dad developed his own Type one diabetes.
In those days, not as much was known about the difference between the two types of diabetes. So they didn't put him on insulin right away. Insulin would have meant no more flying. They put him on a very strict diet which he followed, but he continued to lose weight. About 6 months into our stay in France, my dad ended up in the hospital and was started on insulin, and our stay overseas was cut very short - from the planned 3 years to a lttle less than one year.

Diabetes changed his life, and affected every one of his children in one way or another. I learned early how to draw up and give insulin shots. We all learned the mood swings that indicate blood sugar lows and highs. Career plans and life plans were abruptly derailed. The impact of the sudden onset of a chronic illness cannot be underestimated.
One of the truly frustrating things for me is that there is so much confusion and outright ignorance about type one diabetes. The more common type two gets the spotlight, but the two conditions have many differences. The final common endpoint of both of them is pretty similar - piecemeal organ failure due to the effects of the elevated blood sugar on perfusion. But the etiology is extremely different. Both diseases require a combination of genetics and environment. But type one is triggered not by obesity or overstressing the pancreas - it is triggered by the body's immune system destroying the insulin secreting cells of the pancreas. It cannot be effectively treated by anything other than replacing the insulin. In type two diabetes, the pancreas actually produces excessive amounts of insulin - but the body has learned to ignore it.
My dad had a kidney transplant in January 1984. He's had several surgeries to increase blood flow to various parts as the disease process has blocked them. He's had lots of problems. But he's still alive and in as good health as could be expected for a 71 y/o guy who's been living on borrowed time for decades.
Please pray for him - pray most especially for his soul, for his conversion, for whatever graces are needed for however much longer. And while you're at it, could you throw in a few prayers for my grandmother (his mom)? She's 91 and dad's been co-ordinating her care along with his own. Yes, there are six kids in my generation, but we live all over the country and most of us have families as well.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alicia published on February 7, 2006 10:25 PM.

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